By RAAB BUSTAMANTE
The first helmet orchid species was recently discovered in Davao Oriental.
Corybas Hamiguitanensis, the first documented helmet orchid on the island of Mindanao, was named after the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization World Heritage site.
Helmet orchids can be found from India to Australia where they grow among mosses and leaf litter on the forest floor. (Danilo N. Tandang)
The discovery made by a group of researchers – Dany Tandang, Raab Bustamante, Micheal Galindon, Rudolph Docot, Tomas Reyes, Edwin Tadiosa, Cecilia Moran, and Sue Dixie Tandang – was published in Phytotaxa, a botany-focused scientific journal this month.
According to them, this discovery is evidence of the Philippines’ rich biodiversity and also stressed the need to safeguard different habitats, including ultramafic habitats, that are threatened by mining activities and deforestation.
Helmet orchids can be found from India to Australia where they grow among mosses and leaf litter on the forest floor.
Eight Corybas species have been recorded in the Philippines. This new endemic helmet orchid was recorded in several locations within Mount Hamiguitan, making it the first Corybas species in Mindanao.
Corybas Hamiguitanensis, the first documented helmet orchid on the island of Mindanao, was named after the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization World Heritage site. (Danilo N. Tandang)
Corybas Hamiguitanensis is easily distinguished from the eight other corybas species in the Philippines by the distinct coloration of the labellum, which is predominantly black, except for a bright magenta patch and margin on the limb.
A thorough review and comparison of all known Corybas species was carried out as part of this research. The findings were summarized and submitted to the peer-reviewed journal, which agreed with the findings.
Corybas hamiguitanensis grows in ultramafic habitats which is associated with high biodiversity, because plants here have evolved to grow on mineral rich soil which would be challenging to most other plants.
Unfortunately, since this soil is rich in minerals, it is under constant threat from mineral prospectors and mining.
The researchers hope that the recent discovery of Corybas hamiguitanensis could inspire the younger generations to preserve and conserve the natural wonders of the Philippines.
Photo by Danilo N. Tandang